Thursday, August 19, 2010


Bath time can be challenging for any family, especially if your children are protesting (thank goodness my kids LOVE baths), or you've got more than one to wrangle. There are peculiar challenges related to bathing 3 children under the age of 4, so just for entertainment's sake, I'm going to describe the process as I do it. It's not pretty. And if you are one of those first-time, mother-of-one-perfect-child mommies, you may want to just skip to another blog, or close your eyes, b/c it might give you a heart-attack.


I can't stress how important preparation is the entire process. Once bathtime starts, there's no going back, and I have to either improvise or get my husband to relieve me while I fetch any important items that I forgot. Most nights I don't have my husband to help me, so I have learned not to care if I can't actually WASH the kids b/c I forgot the washcloth (cough). Anyhoo...

I usually start running the bath while my husband and the kids are finishing up their popsicles a healthy dinner. This way, the baby is still safe in his highchair, and the big kids haven't yet started to smear their food-covered hands all over the sofas. While the bath is running, I go from room-to-room collecting pajamas, pull-ups and diapers for after bathtime. I also grab each child's towel, and (if I remember) new washcloths.

My kids have their own bathroom, with a bathtub, but they rarely (if ever) bathe there. Unfortunately, they have invaded our master bathtub, which they refer to affectionately as "Mommy's Pool." So I have to make sure I have all the bath toys, kid's shampoo, and powder in my bathroom. I usually set up a kind of "triage" area next to the closet for drying/dressing the kids.

VERY IMPORTANT: at this point I also turn on the TV in our room to Nick Jr. This way, as each child finishes up in the tub, they happily crawl up into our bed and watch TV as I continue on with the next child, and the next.


Most of the time by now, Kate is already naked in the tub. No, really -- you can't keep the kid out of a water-filled aparatus. So I either holler down to my husband to bring Charlie up or, if he's not home (and knowing I will have this issue) Charlie is in the room already, and I just strip him down and plop him in. Jack will show up shortly, as well, b/c he loves his "tubbies" also.

Once the kids are in the tub, the toys come out, and the game of "try to wash the baby" begins. I have to be honest -- I don't spend a lot of time worrying about actually making washcloth-contact with every square inch of each child's body. I generally focus on two areas: above the water line, and hair. I figure that with the amount of wriggling and swimming each kid does, anything below the water line will take care of itself. Oh, and I also fill the tub up to somewhere around the top of Charlie's belly while he's in the tub. I'm not one of those mommies that puts an inch of water in the tub, b/c that would just mean more chasing down of kids to try and scrub those elusive body parts. So I fill it up high, and watch them well enough to prevent drowning. Once Charlie is done with his bath, I fill the tub up even higher, so that the Big Kids can now swim in the tub.

Bathing Part 2: Hair

My kids love to play with their shampoo. So I wash their hair by letting them apply the shampoo, and supplementing their lathering process with my own assistance. This isn't easy, btw. Picture each child spending most of this time trying to get away from my grasp, and because my bathtub is LARGE, and deep, I usually come damn close to falling in. But I get it done. Jack and Kate both swim now, so they will rinse their own hair by going underwater (I'm not kidding -- I fill the tub up DEEP). They also like to "help me" get the shampoo out of Charlie's hair by dumping water on his poor head. Whatever -- he usually doesn't cry, so we both get over it. During the entire hair-washing process, I also take the opportunity to run a quick washcloth over the body parts above the water that I can reach.


Once the hair-washing is over, I relax for a brief moment while the kids splash water all over creation play in the tub for awhile. Thanks to my hubby, we have a TV over the tub, so I get to watch the news for a minute or two while the kids attempt to drown each other splash around and play with their tubby toys. Once the fighting/screaming starts, bath time is over.

The Wrap Up:

Charlie comes out of the tub first. I have to chase him down to get him out, and then I wrap him up, towel him down, powder, diaper and pajamas while the other two are still in the tub. Luckily my bedroom is a whole open-floor plan concept, so even though I'm in the closet area, I have full view of the tub. I then let Charlie have full run of my (nope, not babyproofed) bedroom while I finish up the other two (stopping, from time to time, to keep the cat from biting him, or taking my phone out of his hand, or generally preventing him from killing himself). Again -- thank goodness for open floorplan. As each of the other two come out of the tub, they get toweled, powdered and dressed, and sent to my bed to watch Dora. Now, the only thing I have left is to bribe Kate into letting me dry Kate's hair, and then we're done! On to bedtime!


If you broke out in a sweat reading this, have no fear. Once the plan is down, it becomes routine. Add in some silly games and the promise of a glass of wine after bedtime, and you're golden!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

A Personal Message... the woman in front of me at the Giant the other day, rolling her eyes at me and my children.

First of all, what kind of person doesn't smile at my baby boy when he smiles at you? Because, really, I'm not biased or anything, but I'm fairly certain he's the cutest baby boy (save one, maybe) that has ever graced this earth. And that smile? It's worth more than it's weight in gold. That was a gift, lady. Smile back, thanks!

And yes, I apologize for you having to endure the screaming of my ornery 2.5 year old daughter. Yes, it was annoying to listen to -- trust me, I know. See, you got 20 minutes of it. I get it ALL. DAY. LONG. And trust me, it's fabulous. Awesome.

And the looks you were giving her, willing her to shut up? Trust me, they don't work. Looks don't work, time-outs don't work, yelling doesn't work, taking away her toys most CERTAINLY doesn't work. So, really, just calm down about it. Don't get annoyed that I was ignoring it, b/c, if YOU had a 2 year old, you would understand. It's your only defense. Pretend like it's not happening, and it might -- MIGHT -- possibly go away.

And, btw, you didn't help much. Was it REALLY necessary for you to place each and every item out of our cart on the conveyor in the SAME direction? I mean, REALLY, lady. I've seen OCD, and you need help. I watched as you carefully grouped the OVER 40 CANS of cat food by type, and then carefully turned EACH can so that the UPC codes were facing in the same direction, before even more carefully placing them down on the belt. Seriously? Are you kidding me? When you have a screaming preschooler on your hands, every second counts. THROW THE DAMN CAT FOOD ON THE BELT! The 40 minutes you spent unloading your cart only added to the time I got to spend prying M&Ms out of Kate's hands (tantrum), demanding she put her shoes back on (tantrum), putting her in the cart next to Charlie (as requested by Miss Kate, and followed by tantrum), denying many, many snacks (tantrum), begging her to get back in the "wheels on the bus" (Kate-ism for the car on the front of the cart -- tantrum), telling her to stop pulling on Charlie's feet (tantrum) and insisting that she use words to express herself (tantrum).

And seriously -- SERIOUSLY -- a CHECK?!?!?! This is 2010, lady! GET A DEBIT CARD! Really, there is a special place in Hell reserved for people who still write checks at the grocery store, especially when there is a screaming toddler in line behind you. Because, REALLY? REALLY? REALLY? I bet you don't have a cell phone, either. You probably do that whole "if I don't want to talk to people, I don't want to have to talk to them." Which, lady, is why cell phones (all phones, btw) come with this convenient option of NOT ANSWERING THEM when you don't want to chat. But that's another whole rant. The thing is... GET A DAMN DEBIT CARD!

And don't think I didn't hear you muttering under your breath about how "this is why I have CATS instead of children."

Oh, it's on, lady.

See, I have a cat, too. I'm a cat person, and I love -- no really -- LOVE my cat. I can tear up just at the thought of losing my cat; and he's old, so trust me -- the day is coming. But let me tell you, even with all the screaming, tantrums, boogers handed to you on the end of a finger when you have no tissues handy, annoying questions about the SAME things over and over, fights with siblings, refusals to get dressed, refusals to eat a nice dinner you just spent 40 minutes cooking, vomit, diapers and diarrhea clean up at 2:30 am -- this is ALL WORTH IT. This is the BEST ride I've ever been on, and I'd rather hear Kate throw tantrums all day long than live a single second without her, or my other two, in my life. Because THAT, lady, is paradise. THAT is why you have kids AND cats.

So again, I apologize for the 40 minutes you had to endure of my child testing her ability to get her way over, and over, and over again (and losing, btw, hence the tantrums). And even more, I apologize for that fact that you will never have the pleasure of a child's arms around your neck, telling you -- out of the blue, in fact -- that they just LOVE you, and want to be JUST like you. I'm sorry you didn't get the chance at paradise yourself.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Mars vs Venus

What it takes to get out of the house, for any given destination: Mommy versus Daddy (at least in MY house).

A decision is made to go to the park. Both parents jump into action to get out the door.



1. Quick glance at kids. Kate's shirt is disgusting, Jack is fine. Head upstairs to grab new shirt for Kate.

2. While upstairs, realize there isn't another shirt that matches pants so (vanity, I know) grab entire new outfit for Kate.

3. Dress Kate, directing Jack to put on his shoes at the same time. Count to 3 in effort to get Jack to get up and get shoes on. Turn off Phineas & Ferb. Tell Kate to stop crying, she IS wearing this outfit, her other shirt is too dirty. Chase Kate into kitchen and force new shirt over her head. Let Kate put skirt on "BY MYSELF!"

4. Glance at diaper bag. Note that it only contains one diaper, wipes and a smattering of McDonald's Happy Meal Toys. Grab clean bottle, formula out of cupboard. Grab extra diaper, bib, burp cloth, and as an afterthought grab a pull-up for Kate, just in case.

5. Attempt to pack snacks without kids noticing, as they will immediately start begging for them. Turn Phineas & Ferb back on to assist in this endeavor. Notice Jack has his shoes on the wrong feet -- tell him to switch feet. Hide in pantry with snack bags, and stealthily sneak Goldfish crackers and raisins into two snack bags -- one for each kid. As an afterthought, grab a package of fruit snacks for each kid, too. Grab another bag and load with Puffs for Charlie.

6. Wonder if we'll be home for dinner. Just in case, grab sippy cups for big kids. Thinking again, decide to fill sippies with water now, and grab extra one for Charlie, too.

7. Tell Kate to put her shoes on.

8. Go out to garage to put diaper bag in car, in an effort to keep kids from discovering snacks inside.

9. Come back in, tell Kate to switch her shoes, and tell both big kids to get in the car while I'm getting Charlie up from his nap. Tell Kate that, yes, she can bring her baby. And her purse. And the random piece of Happy Meal Toy that she is clutching in her grubby little hand.

[Note -- our garage is attached, and right off our kitchen, and yes, I do regularly load the kids up while I'm still getting ready to go because they are SAFER THERE THAN UNDER MY FEET. I'm not apologizing for that.]

10. Head upstairs to get Charlie. Halfway upstairs, remember hats and sunscreen. Turn around, grab three hats, sunscreen, and bring to car.

11. Tell Jack to stop yelling at Kate. Tell Kate to get in carseat. Answer pleas for Dora with "The car is not ON yet, there IS no Dora! You have to wait for Daddy!" Buckle Jack in carseat. Order Kate to sit down NOW, or she's staying home by herself. Buckle crying Kate into carseat, reassuring her that we won't be leaving her at home by herself.

12. Go back in the house to get Charlie. Enter room of sleeping baby, and immediately notice smell of poo. Sigh audibly. Smile at baby who wakes up, sees my face, and squeals happily. Bring Charlie to changing table to change smelly diaper. Wrestle with baby, handing him anything within reach to catch his attention (Tylenol, Butt Paste, rattle), in a lame attempt to keep him from rolling over and smearing poo all over changing table. Finish changing baby, and clean poo off changing table.

13. Bring Charlie downstairs, drop poopy diaper in the garbage, put Charlie down so I can wash my hands.

14. Enter garage where kids are screaming in the car. Yell at Jack to stop teasing Kate. Remind Kate that, as the car is STILL NOT TURNED ON, there is STILL NO DORA. Buckle Charlie into carseat. Hand sippy cups of water over to the big kids.

15. Check trunk for stroller inventory. Decide we need the Bob Duallie. Drag it over to car, and place it behind minivan for Daddy to load.

16. Climb in front seat. Notice Charlie has no paci. Run back into house and hunt for paci. Find one on the floor under kitchen table. Wash in sink, grab a paci-string, and bring back out to car.

17. Climb into passenger seat. Realize I don't have sunglasses. Run back inside, grab sunglasses, go back to car.

18. Notice three old sippy cups on floor under Kate's feet. Grab them, and throw them inside the door to deal with later.

19. Climb back into passenger seat to wait for Daddy. Remind Kate again that there is NO DORA YET!


In the meantime...Daddy:

1. Brush teeth.

2. Go to bathroom.

3. Curse about putting Bob in the back of minivan.

4. Get in drivers' seat, and finally turn on DORA FOR THE LOVE OF GOD TO STOP THE SCREAMING!


Why is it like this? The best part to me is that, on the off chance Andrew makes it in the car before me, he will actually ROLL HIS EYES AT ME, and SIGH as I do my final trips back and forth to grab forgotten items. AS IF he would ever have ANY idea (1) what is actually IN the diaper bag, and (2) what things he would need to pack if HE had to do it. And what is he doing while I am running around like a chicken with my head cut off, grabbing all the supplies needed to keep everyone as whine-free as possible, and to guard against emergencies like a random boo-boo, or (worse) poopy diaper?!? How could it POSSIBLY take that long to brush his teeth? And why does he always get to go to the bathroom in peace, with no little people barging in to demand "MORE MILK" or to commend you on your efforts ("Good pee-pee, Mommy! You get an M&M!")?!? I don't know, but somehow I have a feeling I'm not the only Mommy with a routine like this...

Monday, March 22, 2010

My Secret Shame

I'm a flibbertygibbet. Andrew prefers to call me "Hurricane Ashley," saying that I walk through the house leaving disaster and chaos behind. OK, that might be a bit extreme, but really -- I feel sometimes like I am doing so many things at once that nothing, in effect, ever actually GETS done. And the "chaos" I leave behind drives my poor, extremely neat husband, insane. The worst part about it all is that, while yes, it does BOTHER me that my house doesn't look like a spread from House Beautiful, I can tune it all out and go to sleep at night, not caring that all the toys aren't put away, or there's a pile of laundry in the middle of my floor. Poor Andrew is haunted by it. He gets all freaked out and sweaty when the "stuff" starts piling up, and usually goes on a "let's donate everything we own to Goodwill" rampage. Why he hasn't either burned the house down or smothered me in my sleep is something I often question.

Let me just illustrate, however, the problem that I have in keeping my house neat. And btw, I must emphasize that my house is CLEAN -- I don't leave food laying around, or dirt on the floor. But I leave what my wonderful husband calls "crap," all over the place, b/c I either have NO earthly clue where it's home should be, or I'm just too overwhelmed to find a place for it. Anyway, here is a sample of what my night is like, after the kids are in bed:

Go into laundry room with laundry basket. Load washer. Notice that dryer is covered with random clothes, etc. Notice, specifically, Jack's hat, which I couldn't find earlier. Grab hat to put in coat closet. On the way to coat closet, notice that there are still dinner dishes on the table, along with a few miscellaneous toys. Sigh. Put hat down (I'll only realize I did that later) and grab plates off table. Get to dishwasher and notice it's full of clean dishes. Sigh. Unload dishwasher. Put baby bottles away (from dishwasher) and notice that new box of bottle liners is on counter. Empty bottle liners into cabinet, and break down box for recycling. Notice that recycling is getting out of control (we keep it on the counter until we take it outside) and take it outside. On the way back in, notice I never turned on the washing machine. Turn it on, and notice that there is a basket of clean laundry that needs to be folded. Bring it into kitchen, where I realize dishwasher is still half-unloaded, there are still dirty dishes on the counter that need to go in, and there are still dishes on the table that need to be put away. SIGH.

Put basket down in family room and force myself to go back and put ALL dishes in their respective places. Go into family room, see basket of laundry, know that at the bottom of said basket is all the socks I've avoided matching b/c I hate -- HATE -- matching socks, and generally tend to leave them in the basket until the sock population reaches critical lows. Sigh audibly. Turn on TV, trying to convince myself that it will be fun to fold laundry during DWTS. Sit down to fold laundry, and notice that the carpet has crumbs. Get vaccum cleaner out and vaccum rug before folding. Decide to vaccum kitchen floor, too, b/c -- well, it's easier than sweeping. Get kitchen floor vaccumed and decide I might as well steam mop it NOW, instead of tomorrow when the kids are around. Mop floor, and realize that there are pots on the stove that didn't go in the dishwasher. Turn off steamer mop, and wash dishes. Put them on counter to dry. Go back to family room, give laundry basket the evil eye, and sit on couch with a Klondike bar to check email and watch TV.

The next day, Andrew will come home (at 6:00 am, after working all night) and find (clean) pots on the counter, misc toys on the kitchen table, the steamer mop hanging out in the middle of the kitchen, a laundry basket in the middle of the family room floor, and the vaccum cleaner in the hallway. And this will be in addition to the various art projects laying around, and other miscellaneous items that I don't for the life of me know what to do with, so they just hang out for weeks until Andrew puts them away. Seriously, do you wonder why he doesn't divorce me? B/c sometimes I do. But he couldn't live without the kids, so I'm safe.

An example of the mess. Notice the miscellaneous objects on the counter, including Charlie's shoes, a few paci's, the top to a random pot, a wine opener, a project Jack did in January about penguins, some carpet cleaner and a pair of sunglasses. Some of these things DO, indeed, have homes, but that penguin project will drive Andrew to his grave. I can't bring myself to throw it away, but really -- do I need to keep that? And where would I keep it? I have a box to keep projects in, but that one won't fit. Time for a new box?

The infamous "Table Behind the Couch." This is one of it's cleaner days, actually. I think Andrew probably has nightmares of this table and the clutter it accumulates. On it today are some random items. Some are things that came out of my office at work and, while I don't want to get rid of them, where do I put them? A K&L Luggage tag (do I need this? who knows, but a luggage tag could come in handy...maybe...), a pocket atlas, a small toy football, a disposable camera (what pictures are on THAT?), a calendar I made from -- in 2008.
Poor, poor Andrew. This is my secret shame -- I am a disorganized slob. But I guess it's not so secret anymore. Now I just need some kind of rehab program to turn me into an organized, motivated person. Anyone? Anyone?

Monday, February 8, 2010

Snowed In!

As usual -- I'm posting this WEEKS after I actually wrote it. Why am I so bad about clicking "PUBLISH POST"? I have no earthly idea. I'll try to work on a more recent post now. Look for it in six weeks. Sigh...

It's been five days since I left my house. Five. Days. OK, I've gone outside and shoveled a small walkway that went halfway down the driveway -- and managed to throw my back out in the process. But other than that -- just me and three small people, all completely dependent upon me for most things, including dressing, eating, pulling their pants up after the potty, etc. I'm ready to freak out.

Now, to be fair, they have been remarkably -- REMARKABLY -- well behaved for the most part. Sure there have been some fights, and Jack has been in time-out twice for kicking Kate, but other than that -- pretty good. Of course, I will admit that Playhouse Disney and Nick Jr have been on FULL TIME in my house. Nope, not afraid to admit that. I don't subscribe to the "TV rots your brain" theory, especially since Mickey Mouse Clubhouse taught Kate her colors. So to anyone who does the whole "OH GOD, I only let MY kids watch 30 minutes of PBS a week" -- more power to you people. My 3 year old can still write his name, my name, Andrew's and Kate's name, all by himself without prompting. So I won't apologize for Chuggington and Handy Manny. AAAANYhooo...

So far I have survived. More importantly, so have the children. Which is nice, b/c it would be awkward having to explain to Andrew that I had either sold them on eBay, or thrown them in the snow.

We have made projects, shoveled (seriously, Jack's FAVORITE activity), dressed Flat Stanley, which my sister-in-law was kind enough to send to us (LOVE, Flat Stanley, btw), and (a suggestion from friends) gone swimming in the bathtub. We are surviving. But I Can't. Wait. Until the roads are cleared, and school resumes again. SCHOOL!!! Right now I'm just dreaming of warm weather, and drinking A LOT of coffee.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Day One of my new life...

Well, it started out with a bang. That bang being the kids conspiring against my effort to sleep last night. First of all, around 10:00, when I was (FINALLY) relaxing in front of the TV, I heard the unmistakeable sound of little feet coming down the hallway, and was soon greeted with Kate, butt naked, and whispering that "I need thome new jammieth, Mommy. I need new oneth." Sigh. She hadn't had an accident or anything, btw, just decided that -- really -- she NEEDED new jammies. Oh, and a new pull-up, too. She had thrown her old, DRY pull-up in the garbage. At least she cleaned up after herself.

By 11:00 (no, really) she was finally asleep, and around that time Charlie decided he would take HIS turn. He rarely wakes up at night, but last night he cried, off and on, from 11:00 until 1:00 when I finally gave up and brought him to bed with me. Sigh. Because THAT makes for relaxing sleeping. Especially now that he's semi-mobile. I texted Andrew that I was going to sleep.

Around 4:00 am (4:09, to be exact, if you must know) I heard Jack come coughing into my room, hacking up a lung and gagging. This has been happening a few times over the past week, btw. So he climbs up in bed with me, at which point I notice that Charlie is wide awake next to me, and on all fours, thinking about playtime. Knowing I couldn't handle both kids in bed with me (I'd be up the whole time, paranoid that Jack was going to smother Charlie in his sleep) I put Charlie into his crib and THANKFULLY he decided he would go back to sleep. So I spent the rest of the night in bed listening to Jack cough, sometimes holding him upright in his sleep, and being randomly punched in the face from time to time as he flailed his arms in his sleep.

At 7:00 am Andrew came home. He had texted me around 4 that he should be home by 5:30, so I had of course been up and down from 4:00 to 7:00 wondering where the heck he was. Luckily, he came home in the middle of an argument on the phone with some other sergeants about how to charge some woman who drove drunk through Dupont Circle. Which, of course, woke the kids up. To give him credit, he tried to entertain Jack for me so that I could sleep, but once Charlie woke up it was all over anyway.

The rest of the day really wasn't that bad. We did some projects, the kids "helped" me with some laundry, and we went to the pedi and found out that the older kids all have the sinus infection that Andrew and Charlie just recovered from. After we got home (and, btw, Happy Meals, b/c I didn't make it to the grocery store), I let the kids go out and play in the snow while Charlie and I watched from the window and made excuses for why I couldn't go out and play with them ("Mommy doesn't have shoes on! Mommy has to feed Charlie! Mommy needs a gin and tonic!").

They went to bed without too much argument tonight, thank GOD. Although I did find Katie in bed around 9:00 with her jammies on -- but no pull-up on. Lucky for me I put a new one on her in her sleep so I won't have to clean her bed in the middle of the night. Currently Charlie keeps waking up and crying, but he's finding his binkie on his own and I'm hopeful I will get SOME sleep tonight. And God, I hope the kids sleep in past 7:00 tomorrow.

Monday, January 18, 2010

An Episode in Decorating

So I'm working on painting Kate's room. Finally. I bought the paint about, what was it, four months ago? Yeah. At least. I was planning to do it while I was on maternity leave but never seemed to get around to it. But in about two weeks Kate and Charlie are done with daycare, and I'll never, ever be able to do it again I started priming. Woot!

As a side note, at this moment I can hear the telltale sound of little footsteps over my head. Due to the fact that her bedroom is currently in shambles, Katie is sleeping in my bed tonight. Which means that, really, she's getting into everything in my bathroom, and refusing to sleep. I am afraid to go check on her, but know that I must...

And I'm back, after finding her in bed, but with a box of Dora bandaids. It would seem one of the eleven stuffed animals she brought into the bed has a boo boo. But back to the room...

I've had the plan for Katie's room since the day we first looked at this house. I love her room, with it's large windows and ample closet space. It's also separated enough from the boys' rooms that by the time they are having farting contests and burping the alphabet, she'll be able to get some "space." But her princessy furniture and cute bedding just doesn't go with the gold paint on the walls. It's the color that our entire house, as a matter of fact, is painted. Here are some pictures of her room:

So I'm going to paint the walls green, and do a really cool stencil on the "focus" wall behind her bed. I'm also adding a canopy over the bed. And, you can't see it in this picture, but she has an awesome chandelier for lighting. I can't wait until it all comes together, and then I'll take some pics of it and post them.

Now I hear her -- AGAIN -- running around upstairs. It's currently 2.5 hours past her bedtime, and I'm ready to duct tape her to the bed. I still have to do two loads of laundry, wash and prepare the bottles for tomorrow, and try to get some of the painting done in her room so that GOD FORBID I don't have to do this again tomorrow night. As I just took away her toothbrush and toothpaste (!!), and tucked her back into bed for the 300th time tonight, she whispered to me "Thtay in bed with me, Mommy." Oh, how I wish I could...